As a parent of nearly 17 years, I have advocated for my children to understand the reason for, and utilize, two simple words: thank you. While they may use those words to be polite, or recognize a small token or gesture, it makes me as a parent proud to hear them verbalized. My hope is the person receiving the thanks appreciates it as well. Two people benefitting from one simple recognition. Is it really as simple as that?
It might just be. Think of your prior supervisors and think of the way they recognized you and others. There are a million different ways to operate, lead, and interact with those around us, but my guess is that we think first of the person who had a positive impact on you because of the positive culture they provided. I often pontificate about culture, and will not do so again this time, however I do want you to think of the number of times those impactful leaders utilized the words thank you. One supervisor who made a tremendous impression on me during my (many) college years made it a priority to use both “please” and “thank you”. So much so that you had to notice. Working third shift cleaning university buildings was nearly as thankless as it got, except the supervisor made it a point to recognize the efforts of the staff at every turn.
Recognizing your staff with simple, respectful use of “please” and “thank you” may go a long way. We are always striving to improve our facilities, and our staff plays the most significant part in achieving those improvements. Asking staff to be mindful of trash, use caution while turning equipment due to environmental conditions, and requesting they stay longer to complete tasks that will make improvements are often inherent requests in our daily duties. They may even know the communication is coming. If it comes following the word “please” and, upon completion of the task, is noted with a “thank you” in recognition, we get back to the previous notion of two benefiting from one simple verbal effort. Did you appreciate that they completed the task? Will they be glad that it was recognized? If the answer is yes, then your words made a significant difference.
While pizza, swag, and time off are often viewed as exceptional recognition of a job well done, don’t overlook the power of well-intentioned words. Note the “well-intentioned” portion of the previous sentence. While sticks and stones may break bones, words given in a tone less than genuine can change your recognition from positive to negative in a hurry. Those words may end up hurting you. Being polite builds respect, and recognition is a driver of employee motivation and success. Make it a priority and let me know how it works for you!
To those who allow me to write in this newsletter, and all of you who read my newsletter content, thank you. I truly appreciate the opportunity to contribute and hope you enjoy the content.